Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6: St Norbert, Class III

St Norbert, pictured above receiving the Rule of St Augustine from the saint himself, is the founder of the Praemonstatensian (Norbertine) Order.

Born near Colgne in 1080, his father was Count of Gennep.  Ordained a sub-deacon, he lived a life of pleasure, including at court, and declined ordination to the priesthood and even a bishopric.   A near fatal accident, however, led to his conversion.  He undertook to live a life of penance, became a priest, and unsuccessfully attempted to reform the canons of his home town.  For a while he became an itinerant preacher, before being invited to found a religious order by Pope Callixtus II in 1119.

The Norbertines were originally a double order, although men's and women's houses ceased to be co-located later in the middle ages.  Nonetheless, the order of canons and canonesses regular (rather than monks and nuns) grew rapidly, and continues today.

St Norbert was appointed Archbishop of Magdeberg in 1126, where he was a vigorous reformer of church life.  He played an active role in attempts to restore Innocent II to the papacy in the face of schism.  The saint died in 1134.

The reading on the saints life set for Matins can be found on the lecti divina blog from the afternoon before the feast.

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